Philly officials advise caution as snow emergency expires: ‘Pack your patience’

A Code Blue remains in effect due to frigid temperatures.

Sledders flock to Stokes Hill in Moorestown.

Sledders flock to Stokes Hill in Moorestown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker and other city officials are urging residents to remain off the roads, even as a snow emergency has expired.

Multiple counties in the Philadelphia region were under Winter Storm Warnings on Friday, with heavy snowfall in the forecast.

Parker had advised residents to “stay home if you can,” both for their safety and to give city workers the necessary space to effectively treat roads.

Drivers can once again park on snow emergency routes. Residents whose vehicles were relocated during the snow emergency may call 215-686-SNOW (7669).

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Though the worst of the snowfall is over, city officials at a Friday afternoon press conference recommended that residents exercise caution while cleanup is underway, adding: “Pack your patience.”

The latest forecast

Portions of northern Delaware, South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania saw snowfall between 5 and 6 inches Friday.

Managing director Adam Thiel said Philadelphia was the “bullseye” for the storm system.

“We need you to take this seriously; if you don’t have to be on the roads, don’t be on the roads,” he said.

It had been more than 1,100 days since Philadelphia saw six inches of snow in one day. The city did receive 7.5 inches of snow across two days during the Jan. 28-29, 2022 storm.

On Saturday, meteorologist Cameron Wunderlin, from the National Weather Service’s Mount Holly branch, said no additional snow is expected for the next seven days, but blowing snow remains a concern.

“It might look like it’s snowing but it’s actually not, it’s just the wind picking up the snow that’s already fallen,” he said. “The type of snow we got yesterday was mostly dry, light snow. With the snow not being wet it’s not compacted, so the wind is easily able to pick up this dry, lighter snow and blow it around.”

City snow preparations

Mayor Parker donned snow boots as she learned about the finer points of brining and salting streets. She vowed that even smaller streets would be attended to during Friday’s storm.

Parker said this has been city policy all along, but she is reinforcing the message to make sure city employees attend to streets just larger than the width of a car, which have been neglected in the past.

Officials at an afternoon press conference said that 75% of primary roads had been treated. Snow and ice removal requests had already been pouring in across Philly from the icy aftermath of Monday’s storm.

“Each and every one of you … are our priorities,” Parker said. “You all are our customers and it is our intention to get to you and where you live.”

Clean and Green Initiatives director Carlton Williams said street crews had up to “43,000 times” the normal amount of salt needed “to fight this event.” He stressed that the city will continue to work to clear every street. He said that, even with the hundreds of pieces of equipment they have, it won’t happen quickly, but they will work until the job is done.

“Our goal is to make these roads as [safe] as possible and return the city back to normal operations as quickly as possible,” Williams said.

City officials are also asking residents to check in on the sick and elderly and not to use kerosene or propane heaters indoors. They say if you lose power and have a generator, make sure it is also kept outside, not in a garage.

A Code Blue is also in effect to aid people experiencing homelessness due to the below-freezing temperatures. If you are concerned about someone who appears to be experiencing homelessness and is out on the street, call the city’s Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984.

Mayor Cherelle Parker delivers an update on the city's storm preparations.
Mayor Cherelle Parker delivers an update on the city’s storm preparations. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

School closures

The School District of Philadelphia was closed Friday because of the storm. Classes were not held remotely and athletics and extracurricular activities were canceled.

“As a father of three children who are grown now, I remember the importance and the joy of being able to get out and play in [the] snow,” Superintendent Watlington said. “It’s been 700 days, I’m told, since the last snow event in the city … so we’re inviting our young people to get out and enjoy the snow.”

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Parking, transit and trash

In case people needed to get to work Friday, the Philadelphia Parking Authority announced a $5 flat parking rates for parking garages in Center City. Residential parking permits were not enforced during the snow emergency.

SEPTA has encouraged people to stay at home during the storm, though delays are possible.

Friday trash collection, which had been rescheduled to Saturday due to the MLK holiday, is suspended. Residents who have not had trash picked up are advised to hold until next week’s collection.

Trash trucks will be used for plowing operations as the accumulation increases.

What about New Jersey?

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Atlantic, Cumberland, Camden, Gloucester, Northwestern and Southeastern Burlington, Salem and Ocean counties.

A State of Emergency that went into effect for recent storms remains in effect.

David Matthaeu contributed reporting.

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